EPISODE 3: THE TALKING DINO THAT'S TURNING THE TOY BIZ ON ITS EAR
How two Wild Ducks and IBM Watson are changing the way kids play and learn
Meet the wifi-enabled, cloud-connected future of toys—powered by IBM Watson. The first in a planned series of CogniToys, Dino can have a conversation with its owner and becomes more personalized as a child grows. The entrepreneurs behind CogniToys dreamed up Dino for the Watson Mobile Developer Challenge. Now they’re imagining a future where cognitive computing is embedded into all kinds of toys and video games. Which means the fun’s just getting started.
CogniToys is the brainchild of Elemental Path, which was in turn born out of mobile app developer Mastyk Apps. At company headquarters on 35th Street in Manhattan, you'll find a gaggle of prototypes, dangling wires, unprotected circuit boards, and competitive toys in various stages of deconstruction.
Elemental Path co-founder JP Benini is the company's chief technologist. When it comes to his quest to embed cognitive computing into toys of all kinds, he has a secret weapon. "I'm a giant child!" he says.
Typical of almost any tech startup, Elemental Path is populated primarily by heads-down engineers. But the company has also attracted some bona fide star power. Recently, it brought on a new COO, Bernie Stolar, the former president of Mattel Interactive and Sega Entertainment (not pictured).
Elemental Path co-founder Donald Coolidge is a burly, soft-spoken serial entrepreneur and former member of the United States Marine Corps.
Co-founder JP Benini came to Elemental Path from a different sort of bunker. He used to build high-frequency trading systems for Wall Street.
The CogniToys prototypes lining the walls at Elemental Path were manufactured on a 3D printer. But they’re not far from the actual $99 versions that will begin shipping in November.